Photographer Nina Leen holding shutter release, standing beside her Rolleiflex, which is set up on tripod. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Photographer Nina Leen holding shutter release, standing beside her Rolleiflex, which is set up on tripod. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Pix Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

As a European and an experienced photographer of animals, Nina Leen (c. 1914-1995) had a sensibility that prompted her to study Americans the way a biologist would an exotic species. “It was typical for Americans not to see what [the American look] was,” she said. “To them it was usual—Isn’t everybody like that? For me, America wasn’t usual.” Her many subjects ranged from the latest fashions to Ozark clans, even as she continued to study animals, including snakes and bats. “I wanted to show bats in pictures because words would just fly off into the air,” she said. “People wouldn’t believe it and could not imagine them.” After seeing pictures of an orphaned puppy on a road next to her slain mother, Leen adopted the spaniel-like mutt. She called her Lucky, and nurtured her to health and fame. An inspiration to stage-mother dog owners everywhere, Leen featured Lucky in LIFE, on TV, in a movie and in the book Lucky, the Famous Foundling.

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

5 models wearing fashionable dress suits at a race track betting window, at Roosevelt Raceway. (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

5 models wearing fashionable dress suits at a race track betting window, at Roosevelt Raceway. (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Portrait of a group of American abstract artists, collectively know as 'The Irascibles.' (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Portrait of a group of American abstract artists, collectively know as ‘The Irascibles.’ (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Little boys outside circus tent playing with a dog. (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Little boys outside circus tent playing with a dog. (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Models lying on beach to display bathing suits. (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Models lying on beach to display bathing suits. (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

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